Su-30 family

All large-lot modifications of Su-30 have been designed in Russia, but the project itself dates back to the days of the USSR. Designing of an interceptor on the base of combat trainer Su-27UB was commenced in 1988, and the first flight of the aircraft took place on October 4. On April 14, 1992, the first production aircraft successfully took off. However, mass-production operations were interrupted due to collapse of the USSR: nine aircraft were commissioned, and only five machines were purchased to meet the needs of defensive air forces. The remaining aircraft were used during the tests and were exhibited at international air shows.

Manufacturing of «original» Su-30 was ceased by reason of inability to fully unlock inherent potential of the aircraft as regards, first of all, to enhancement of ground targets engagement capability: extensive weapon load and flying range in combination with the crew consisting of two members could become the foundation stone of a first-of-the-line strike aircraft. However, attack potential of basic Su-27UB and the first Su-30 was limited only to unguided «air-to-ground» weapons. Works on Su-30MK development were commenced in 1992. The first success was achieved in 1996 — agreement on 40 Su-30MKI delivery was entered into with India. The Su-30MKI were considerably different from the dual control aircraft: canards were included into the aircraft structure, the machines were equipped with advanced avionics and engines with thrust vectoring nozzle. First flight of Su-30MKI prototype took place on July 1, 1997. Considering that the aircraft development lasted several years, the first 18 machines purchased by India were Su-30K modification, being Su-30 designed at the early 1990s equipped with GPS. The aircraft were subsequently replaced with Su-30MKI, were modernized in Belarus and sold to Angola in 2013. Deliveries of «authentic» Su-30MKI to India were commenced in 2002, additional orders were made, and licensed production was arranged. The aircraft Su-30MKI form the core of Indian Air Force, as total of ordered aircraft amounted to 272.

The first Su-30 and Su-30MKI were manufactured by Irkutsk Aviation Production Association (IAPA). However, production of the «Sukhoi» family aircraft was also arranged at Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Production Association (KAAPA), and these machines were mainly intended for deliveries to China. When China applied for strike modification of Su-27, it was decided to take the aircraft Su-30K as a basis for designing and manufacture the machines at KAAPA. The works were commenced in 1998, and the upgrade essentially affected avionics, but the aircraft was not equipped with canards or engines with thrust vectoring nozzle. The first flight of Su-30MKK was performed on May 20, 1999, and the first machines were delivered to the customer at the end of 2000. The aircraft modification with a more progressive avionics — Su-30 МК2 — was created on the base of Su-30MKK in 2002. In total China purchased 76 aircraft Su-30MKK and 24 aircraft Su-30MK2.

The machines manufactured by IAPA were subsequently purchased by Algeria (44 aircraft Su-30MKM) and Malaysia (18 aircraft Su-30MKM), and the machines produced by KAAPA were exported to Venezuela (24 aircraft Su-30MK2), Vietnam (60 aircraft Su-30MK2), Indonesia (2 aircraft Su-30MK and 9 aircraft Su-30MK2) and Uganda (6 aircraft Su-30MK2). Therefore, more than five hundred aircraft of Su-30 family were totally ordered by foreign countries in the last fifteen years.

After many years without purchases, the Russian Air Force started renovation of the aircraft fleet and naturally expressed its interest in modern general-purpose fighters, production of which had already been set up. An advanced Su-30SM machine manufactured by IAPA was selected as basic model. Su-30SM production for the Russian Air Force is in progress since 2012, contracts for 72 aircrafts have already been entered into and additional purchases are expected. Purchases of Su-30M2 machines manufactured at KAAPA are intended to replace combat trainers Su-27UB: 20 aircraft Su-30M2 have been ordered in total. The first deliveries were carried out in 2010.

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